How do you travel from Hastings to Hackney? Well, by means of a plastic swan of course! At least, that was how Andrew Kötting did it, and his new film, Swandown, is the result of his funny, calming and captivating ‘journey with a difference’.
Summer was coming to an end when artist Andrew Kötting and writer/ psychogeographer Iain Sinclair decided to pedal their way into the heart of the new Olympic site on the back of a massive white plastic swan, a journey via the open sea lasting no less than four weeks. ‘Why?’ you ask? Well, because they could.
The film capturing their eccentric trip does not just offer the most stupidly funny visuals – which are brilliant on its own – it also offers us a variety of different views as the two peddlers and guest peddlers (including the likes of Alan Moore, Stewart Lee, Dudley Sutton and Marcia Farquhar) contemplate what Britain is all about. What do we do, how do we feel, what was Britain like yesterday and what is it like today?
The film itself is more than just ‘eclectic’. Old BBC clips of Britain are presented to us, intercut with footage of passing boats shouting obscenities to the pair, and guest peddlers contemplating the role of the swan peddalo in reaching a state of world peace.
Alan Moore for example discusses the potential for inter-faith pedallos with Stewart Lee. If different religions would be made to pedal together would the world become a better place? They seem to think so.
The swan, it seems, can be made to be represent many a thing, and as it doesn’t protest it seems to agree with everything that’s being said while it moves gracefully through the water going from one community to another.
If it all seems slightly absurd to you then you’re spot on, it is. But that’s the beauty of it. It is a gorgeous film that provides new insights into British communities, individuals, concepts and projects such as the Olympics, in a way that shows it doesn’t take itself to serious; after all, a film should be entertaining.